The state of California is operating on a “stay-at-home” mandate meant to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. While this measure is for our safety, it does pose certain challenges for parents who share custody of their children.
The San Francisco court has created a list of tips and recommendations meant to help parents co-parent as successfully as possible while these orders are in place. These stipulations encourage parents to act on what is in the best interests of their children, as well as the safety of all parties involved.
These tips and recommendations are:
1. Parenting Time Shall Continue As If Children Are In School
While schools are closed, parents are required to uphold their parenting schedules as if school was still in session. This means that if one parent is used to beginning their custody time at 5pm on Friday, they should continue to do so despite the “stay-at-home” orders. Custody arrangements during school holidays and breaks are also expected to be upheld as scheduled.
2. COVID-19 Is Not An Excuse to Withhold Parenting Time
Unless otherwise established in a court order, parents who are fit to care for their children are allowed their scheduled parenting time. Any individual who attempts to use the pandemic as an excuse to prevent their child from having contact with their other parent is in violation of the law.
If one parent is required to conduct their parenting time under supervision and the normal supervisor is unavailable, then the parents must work together to think up a temporary alternative. For example, parents could find an alternative supervisor or utilize digital media (phone calls, video messaging, etc.) to fulfill the visitation arrangements.
3. Avoid Non-Essential Travel
If either parent had plans to visit another state by plane for school vacation, it's advisable that this trip be canceled. Additionally, local travel with children should be restricted to essential activities. These activities include custody exchanges, emergency medical visits, and/or going to the grocery store.
Parents should perform the custody exchange in an area that is not often congregated by the public, such as at either parent's home or a small parking lot.
4. Maintain Transparency
Unless there is an order restricting communication between parents, the parties should practice transparent communication. This means that each parent should be open and honest about the safety measures they are taking during the ”stay-at-home” order. Even if parent is not upholding CDC-recommended safety measures, the other parent must continue to honor the custody arrangement.
5. Makeup Parenting Time
If, for any reason, either parent is unable to take custody of their child during their scheduled time, the other parent must allow for makeup parenting time. For example, if one parent is an essential employee and is scheduled to work overtime on a day they are supposed to have custody, the other parent is required to let the essential employee parent take custody the next time they are available.
Our office is open during the California “stay-at-home” orders. However, to protect the health and safety of our staff and clients, we are only operating via phone and video consultations. If you are having issues upholding custody arrangements during this time or you are worried that your child’s other parent is not following safety measures, we can help you.